Bokspits — Kgalagadi communities have been encouraged to participate in nature-based enterprises to promote their economic growth.
The encouragement came from United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) resident representative, Ms Jacinta Barrins at the launch of BORAVAST (Bokspits, Rappelspan, Vaalhoek and Struizendum) charcoal project recently.
She said UNDP was a major development partner with Botswana government with the aim to implement environmental projects that would encourage communities to benefit from non-consumption based resources from their localities.
"It is through this study project that a number of livelihood improvement initiatives will be supported and one such initiative is the BORAVAST charcoal production" she noted.
Ms Barrins said charcoal production was identified as one of the ways to utilize Prosopis (sexanana) since it was considered an invasive species that called for it to be cleared out.
She, however, said the communities saw it fit to engage in an environmental project that would turn sexanana into an income-generating activity by producing charcoal and fodder.
Ms Barrins said the project also ensured rehabilitation of landscape to increase the continued flow of the ecosystem.
She said KGDEP, in collaboration with the Department of Forestry and Range Resources conducted entrepreneur and production training for 15 participants consisting of nine females and six males to spearhead the business venture.
The UNDP representative said Kgalagadi's vast wilderness had the potential to greatly improve the livelihoods of locals and contribute to the economic growth of the country.
For his part, Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources, Conservation and Tourism deputy permanent secretary Mr Gaogakwe Phorano encouraged BORAVAST communities to ensure they supported government initiative on economic transformation by engaging in productive activities.
He urged the BORAVAST Trust to ensure the project became a success in terms of increasing job creation opportunities.
They were also advised to market the product to ensure that it penetrated international markets.
In his welcome remarks earlier, Kgosi Charles Hendricks implored the communities to tap into new opportunities brought by the COVID-19 outbreak.
He encouraged them to remain resilient in a business that would promote food security.
Another speaker, Kgalagadi South MP, Mr Sam Brooks implored BORAVAST Trust to work as a team and reconcile their different perspectives amicably.
Source : BOPA